I have just finished a mural commission at the Royal Glamorgan hospital’s Emergency Department. The artwork was to commemorate the life of Brad James, a consultant who had worked in the A&E department for many years. Brad was a very much loved and respected member of the team who died suddenly in February, leaving the whole department devastated.
Before the initial meetings to discuss the mural had taken place another colleague, Dr Gwyn Roberts, had also tragically died.
We eventually met in September to discuss the project and I was struck by the depth of love and loss felt by the staff in the department. Brad and Gwyn were obviously both greatly loved, and the planned mural had to reflect both their characters and the strength of feelings of the whole department at their loss.
The mural was to be situated in the A&E staff courtyard. A place where they can chill out between the shifts on the ward.
We discussed a variety of ideas and the staff suggested that they would like to see rainbows, colour, flowers and messages of love. I then worked on a simple colourful background design with the idea that I would add to the design with words and images that would arise from conversations with the staff as I painted.
Every day that I was on site nurses and other colleagues would pop out to see me and tell me their memories, funny stories and snippets about Brad and Gwyn. I had a tear in my eye about 5 times a day listening to the depth of feeling coming out in all their stories. The pain was obviously very raw still.
These insights led to the inclusion of all sorts of random elements relating to both doctors. For Brad, there was the Zombie survival kit, the wok, hot chilli peppers, clay pigeon shooting, hedgehogs, robins and the tree stump that would prove a liability for him and his fellow smokers. For Gwyn, a proud Welsh-speaker and patriotic Welshman, there was Yr Wyddfa, lines of poetry, daffodils and outdoor pursuits.
Brad was known for waving off patients with a cheeky ‘Thanks for coming!’ – Hence the phrase on the final panel.
The mural is a funny, colourful mish-mash of ideas, but I really like it, and I loved working at the hospital on such an important piece of work. More importantly I think the staff are chuffed with it too.
You can read about Brad in this article from Wales Online :